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The Complete Angler by Izaak Walton

Part 3 out of 4

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of; and let him fall into it with the sauce that is roasted in his belly; and
by this means the Pike will be kept unbroken and complete. Then, to
the sauce which was within, and also that sauce in the pan, you are to
add a fit quantity of the best butter, and to squeeze the juice of three or
four oranges. Lastly, you may either put it into the Pike, with the
oysters, two cloves of garlick, and take it whole out, when the Pike is
cut off the spit; or, to give the sauce a haut goût, let the dish into which
you let the Pike fall be rubbed with it: The using or not using of this
garlick is left to your discretion. M. B."

This dish of meat is too good for any but anglers, or very honest men;
and I trust you will prove both, and therefore I have trusted you with
this secret.

Let me next tell you, that Gesner tells us, there are no Pikes in Spain,
and that the largest are in the lake Thrasymene in Italy; and the next, if
not equal to them, are the Pikes of England; and that in England,
Lincolnshire boasteth to have the biggest. Just so doth Sussex boast of
four sorts of fish, namely, an Arundel Mullet, a Chichester Lobster, a
Shelsey Cockle, and an Amerly Trout.

But I will take up no more of your time with this relation, but proceed
to give you some Observations of the Carp, and how to angle for him;
and to dress him but not till he is caught.

The fourth day - continued

On the Carp

Chapter IX


The Carp is the queen of rivers; a stately, a good, and a very subtil fish;
that was not at first bred, nor hath been long in England, but is now
naturalised. It is said, they were brought hither by one Mr. Mascal, a
gentleman that then lived at Plumsted in Sussex, a county that abounds
more with this fish than any in this nation.

You may remember that I told you Gesner says there are no Pikes in
Spain; and doubtless there was a time, about a hundred or a few more
years ago, when there were no Carps in England, as may seem to be
affirmed by Sir Richard Baker, in whose Chronicle you may find these

Hops and turkies, carps and beer,
Came into England all in a year.

And doubtless, as of sea-fish the Herring dies soonest out of the water,
and of fresh-water fish the Trout, so, except the Eel, the Carp endures
most hardness, and lives longest out of its own proper element; and,
therefore, the report of the Carp's being brought out of a foreign country
into this nation is the more probable.

Carps and Loaches are observed to breed several months in one year,
which Pikes and most other fish do not; and this is partly proved by
tame and wild rabbits; as also by some ducks, which will lay eggs nine
of the twelve months; and yet there be other ducks that lay not longer
than about one month. And it is the rather to be believed, because you
shall scarce or never take a male Carp without a melt, or a female
without a roe or spawn, and for the most part very much, and especially
all the summer season; and it is observed, that they breed more
naturally in ponds than in running waters, if they breed there at all; and
that those that live in rivers are taken by men of the best palates to be
much the better meat.

And it is observed that in some ponds Carps will not breed, especially
in cold ponds; but where they will breed, they breed innumerably:
Aristotle and Pliny say six times in a year, if there be no Pikes nor
Perch to devour their spawn, when it is cast upon grass or flags, or
weeds, where it lies ten or twelve days before it be enlivened

The Carp, if he have water-room and good feed, will grow to a very
great bigness and length; I have heard, to be much above a yard long. It
is said by Jovius, who hath writ of fishes, that in the lake Lurian in
Italy, Carps have thriven to be more than fifty pounds weight: which is
the more probable, for as the bear is conceived and born suddenly, and
being born is but short lived; so, on the contrary, the elephant is said to
be two years in his dam's belly, some think he is ten years in it, and
being born, grows in bigness twenty years; and it is observed too, that
he lives to the age of a hundred years. And 'tis also observed, that the
crocodile is very long-lived; and more than that, that all that long life he
thrives in bigness; and so I think some Carps do, especially in some
places, though I never saw one above twenty-three inches, which was a
great and goodly fish; but have been assured there are of a far greater
size, and in England too.

Now, as the increase of Carps is wonderful for their number, so there is
not a reason found out, I think, by any, why they should breed in some
ponds, and not in others, of the same nature for soil and all other
circumstances. And as their breeding, so are their decays also very
mysterious: I have both read it, and been told by a gentleman of tried
honesty, that he has known sixty or more large Carps put into several
ponds near to a house, where by reason of the stakes in the ponds, and
the owner's constant being near to them, it was impossible they should
be stole away from him; and that when he has, after three or four years,
emptied the pond, and expected an increase from them by breeding
young ones, for that they might do so he had, as the rule is, put in three
melters for one spawner, he has, I say, after three or four years, found
neither a young nor old Carp remaining. And the like I have known of
one that had almost watched the pond, and, at a like distance of time, at
the fishing of a pond, found, of seventy or eighty large Carps, not above
five or six: and that he had forborne longer to fish the said pond, but
that he saw, in a hot day in summer, a large Carp swim near the top of
the water with a frog upon his head; and that he, upon that occasion,
caused his pond to be let dry: and I say, of seventy or eighty Carps, only
found five or six in the said pond, and those very sick and lean, and
with every one a frog sticking so fast on the head of the said Carps, that
the frog would not be got off without extreme force or killing. And the
gentleman that did affirm this to me, told me he saw it; and did declare
his belief to be, and I also believe the same, that he thought the other
Carps, that were so strangely lost, were so killed by the frogs, and then

And a person of honour, now living in Worcestershire, assured me he
had seen a necklace, or collar of tadpoles, hang like a chain or necklace
of beads about a Pike's neck, and to kill him: Whether it were for meat
or malice, must be, to me, a question.

But I am fallen into this discourse by accident; of which I might say
more, but it has proved longer than I intended, and possibly may not to
you be considerable: I shall therefore give you three or four more short
observations of the Carp, and then fall upon some directions how you
shall fish for him.

The age of Carps is by Sir Francis Bacon, in his History of Life and
Death, observed to be but ten years; yet others think they live longer.
Gesner says, a Carp has been known to live in the Palatine above a
hundred years But most conclude, that, contrary to the Pike or Luce, all
Carps are the better for age and bigness. The tongues of Carps are noted
to be choice and costly meat, especially to them that buy them: but
Gesner says, Carps have no tongue like other fish, but a piece of
fleshlike fish in their mouth like to a tongue, and should be called a
palate: but it is certain it is choicely good, and that the Carp is to be
reckoned amongst those leather-mouthed fish which, I told you, have
their teeth in their throat; and for that reason he is very seldom lost by
breaking his hold, if your hook be once stuck into his chaps.

I told you that Sir Francis Bacon thinks that the Carp lives but ten years:
but Janus Dubravius has writ a book Of fish and fish-ponds in which he
says, that Carps begin to spawn at the age of three years, and continue
to do so till thirty: he says also, that in the time of their breeding, which
is in summer, when the sun hath warmed both the earth and water, and
so apted them also for generation, that then three or four male Carps
will follow a female; and that then, she putting on a seeming coyness,
they force her through weeds and flags, where she lets fall her eggs or
spawn, which sticks fast to the weeds; and then they let fall their melt
upon it, and so it becomes in a short time to be a living fish: and, as I
told you, it is thought that the Carp does this several months in the year;
and most believe, that most fish breed after this manner, except the Eel.
And it has been observed, that when the spawner has weakened herself
by doing that natural office, that two or three melters have helped her
from off the weeds, by bearing her up on both sides, and guarding her
into the deep. And you may note, that though this may seem a curiosity
not worth observing, yet others have judged it worth their time and
costs to make glass hives, and order them in such a manner as to see
how bees have bred and made their honeycombs, and how they have
obeyed their king, and governed their commonwealth. But it is thought
that all Carps are not bred by generation; but that some breed other
ways, as some Pikes do.

The physicians make the galls and stones in the heads of Carps to be
very medicinable. But it is not to be doubted but that in Italy they make
great profit of the spawn of Carps, by selling it to the Jews, who make it
into red caviare; the Jews not being by their law admitted to eat of
caviare made of the Sturgeon, that being a fish that wants scales, and,
as may appear in Leviticus xi., by them reputed to be unclean.

Much more might be said out of him, and out of Aristotle, which
Dubravius often quotes in his Discourse of Fishes: but it might rather
perplex than satisfy you; and therefore I shall rather choose to direct
you how to catch, than spend more time in discoursing either of the
nature or the breeding of this Carp, or of any more circumstances
concerning him. But yet I shall remember you of what I told you before,
that he is a very subtil fish, and hard to be caught

And my first direction is, that if you will fish for a Carp, you must put
on a very large measure of patience, especially to fish for a river Carp: I
have known a very good fisher angle diligently four or six hours in a
day, for three or four days together, for a river Carp, and not have a
bite. And you are to note, that, in some ponds, it is as hard to catch a
Carp as in a river; that is to say, where they have store of feed, and the
water is of a clayish colour. But you are to remember that I have told
you there is no rule without an exception; and therefore being possess
with that hope and patience which I wish to all fishers, especially to the
Carp-angler, I shall tell you with what bait to fish for him. But first you
are to know, that it must be either early, or late; and let me tell you, that
in hot weather, for he will seldom bite in cold, you cannot be too early,
or too late at it. And some have been so curious as to say, the tenth of
April is a fatal day for Carps.

The Carp bites either at worms, or at paste: and of worms I think the
bluish marsh or meadow worm is best; but possibly another worm, not
too big, may do as well, and so may a green gentle: and as for pastes,
there are almost as many sorts as there are medicines for the toothache;
but doubtless sweet pastes are best; I mean, pastes made with honey or
with sugar: which, that you may the better beguile this crafty fish,
should be thrown into the pond or place in which you fish for him,
some hours, or longer, before you undertake your trial of skill with the
angle-rod; and doubtless, if it be thrown into the water a day or two
before, at several times, and in small pellets, you are the likelier, when
you fish for the Carp, to obtain your desired sport. Or, in a large pond,
to draw them to any certain place, that they may the better and with
more hope be fished for, you are to throw into it, in some certain place,
either grains, or blood mixt with cow-dung or with bran; or any
garbage, as chicken's guts or the like; and then, some of your small
sweet pellets with which you propose to angle: and these small pellets
being a few of them also thrown in as you are angling, will be the

And your paste must be thus made: take the flesh of a rabbit, or cat, cut
small; and bean-flour; and if that may not be easily got, get other flour;
and then, mix these together, and put to them either sugar, or honey,
which I think better: and then beat these together in a mortar, or
sometimes work them in your hands, your hands being very clean; and
then make it into a ball, or two, or three, as you like best, for your use:
but you must work or pound it so long in the mortar, as to make it so
tough as to hang upon your hook without washing from it, yet not too
hard: or, that you may the better keep it on your hook, you may knead
with your paste a little, and not too much, white or yellowish wool.

And if you would have this paste keep all the year, for any other fish,
then mix with it virgin-wax and clarified honey, and work them
together with your hands, before the fire; then make these into balls,
and they will keep all the year.

And if you fish for a Carp with gentles, then put upon your hook a small
piece of scarlet about this bigness, it being soaked in or anointed with
oil of petre, called by some, oil of the rock: and if your gentles be put,
two or three days before, into a box or horn anointed with honey, and so
put upon your hook as to preserve them to be living, you are as like to
kill this crafty fish this way as any other: but still, as you are fishing,
chew a little white or brown bread in your mouth, and cast it into the
pond about the place where your float swims. Other baits there be; but
these, with diligence and patient watchfulness, will do better than any
that I have ever practiced or heard of. And yet I shall tell you, that the
crumbs of white bread and honey made into a paste is a good bait for a
Carp; and you know, it is more easily made. And having said thus much
of the Carp, my next discourse shall be of the Bream, which shall not
prove so tedious; and therefore I desire the continuance of your

But, first, I will tell you how to make this Carp, that is so curious to be
caught, so curious a dish of meat as shall make him worth all your
labour and patience. And though it is not without some trouble and
charges, yet it will recompense both.

Take a Carp, alive if possible; scour him, and rub him clean with water
and salt, but scale him not: then open him; and put him, with his blood
and his liver, which you must save when you open him, into a small pot
or kettle: then take sweet marjoram, thyme, and parsley, of each half a
handful; a sprig of rosemary, and another of savoury; bind them into
two or three small bundles, and put them in your Carp, with four or five
whole onions, twenty pickled oysters, and three anchovies. Then pour
upon your Carp as much claret wine as will only cover him; and season
your claret well with salt, cloves, and mace, and the rinds of oranges
and lemons. That done, cover your pot and set it on a quick fire till it be
sufficiently boiled. Then take out the Carp; and lay it, with the broth,
into the dish; and pour upon it a quarter of a pound of the best fresh
butter, melted, and beaten with half a dozen spoonfuls of the broth, the
yolks of two or three eggs, and some of the herbs shred: garnish your
dish with lemons, and so serve it up. And much good do you! Dr. T.

The fourth day-continued

On the Bream

Chapter X


The Bream, being at a full growth, is a large and stately fish. He will
breed both in rivers and ponds: but loves best to live in ponds, and
where, if he likes the water and air, he will grow not only to be very
large, but as fat as a hog. He is by Gesner taken to be more pleasant, or
sweet, than wholesome. This fish is long in growing; but breeds
exceedingly in a water that pleases him; yea, in many ponds so fast, as
to overstore them, and starve the other fish.

He is very broad, with a forked tail, and his scales set in excellent
order; he hath large eyes, and a narrow sucking mouth; he hath two sets
of teeth, and a lozenge-like bone, a bone to help his grinding. The
melter is observed to have two large melts; and the female, two large
bags of eggs or spawn.

Gesner reports, that in Poland a certain and a great number of large
breams were put into a pond, which in the next following winter were
frozen up into one entire ice, and not one drop of water remaining, nor
one of these fish to be found, though they were diligently searched for;
and yet the next spring, when the ice was thawed, and the weather
warm, and fresh water got into the pond, he affirms they all appeared
again. This Gesner affirms; and I quote my author, because it seems
almost as incredible as the resurrection to an atheist: but it may win
something, in point of believing it, to him that considers the breeding or
renovation of the silk-worm, and of many insects. And that is
considerable, which Sir Francis Bacon observes in his History of Life
and Death, fol. 20, that there be some herbs that die and spring every
year, and some endure longer.

But though some do not, yet the French esteem this fish highly; and to
that end have this proverb " He that hath Breams in his pond, is able to
bid his friend welcome "; and it is noted, that the best part of a Bream is
his belly and head.

Some say, that Breams and Roaches will mix their eggs and melt
together; and so there is in many places a bastard breed of Breams, that
never come to be either large or good, but very numerous.

The baits good to catch this Bream are many. First, paste made of
brown bread and honey; gentles; or the brood of wasps that be young,
and then not unlike gentles, and should be hardened in an oven, or dried
on a tile before the fire to make them tough. Or, there is, at the root of
docks or flags or rushes, in watery places, a worm not unlike a maggot,
at which Tench will bite freely. Or he will bite at a grasshopper with his
legs nipt off, in June and July; or at several flies, under water, which
may be found on flags that grow near to the water-side. I doubt not but
that there be many other baits that are good; but I will turn them all into
this most excellent one, either for a Carp or Bream, in any river or
mere: it was given to me by a most honest and excellent angler; and
hoping you will prove both, I will impart it to you.

1. Let your bait be as big a red worm as you can find, without a knot:
get a pint or quart of them in an evening, in garden-walks, or chalky
commons, after a shower of rain; and put them with clean moss well
washed and picked, and the water squeezed out of the moss as dry as
you can, into an earthen pot or pipkin set dry; and change the moss
fresh every three or four days, for three weeks or a month together; then
your bait will be at the best, for it will be clear and lively.

2, Having thus prepared your baits, get your tackling ready and fitted
for this sport. Take three long angling-rods; and as many and more silk,
or silk and hair, lines; and as many large swan or goose-quill floats.
Then take a piece of lead, and fasten them to the low ends of your lines:
then fasten your link-hook also to the lead; and let there be about a foot
or ten inches between the lead and the hook: but be sure the lead be
heavy enough to sink the float or quill, a little under the water; and not
the quill to bear up the lead, for the lead must lie on the ground. Note,
that your link next the hook may be smaller than the rest of your line, if
you dare adventure, for fear of taking the Pike or Perch, who will
assuredly visit your hooks, till they be taken out, as I will show you
afterwards, before either Carp or Bream will come near to bite. Note
also, that when the worm is well baited, it will crawl up and down as
far as the lead will give leave, which much enticeth the fish to bite
without suspicion.

3. Having thus prepared your baits, and fitted your tackling, repair to
the river, where you have seen them swim in skulls or shoals. in the
summer-time, in a hot afternoon, about three or four of the clock; and
watch their going forth of their deep holes, and returning, which you
may well discern, for they return about four of the clock, most of them
seeking food at the bottom, yet one or two will lie on the top of the
water, rolling and tumbling themselves, whilst the rest are under him at
the bottom; and so you shall perceive him to keep sentinel: then mark
where he plays most and stays longest, which commonly is in the
broadest and deepest place of the river; and there, or near thereabouts,
at a clear bottom and a convenient landing-place, take one of your
angles ready fitted as aforesaid, and sound the bottom, which should be
about eight or ten feet deep; two yards from the bank is best. Then
consider with yourself, whether that water will rise or fall by the next
morning, by reason of any water-mills near; and, according to your
discretion, take the depth of the place, where you mean after to cast
your ground-bait, and to fish, to half an inch; that the lead lying on or
near the ground-bait, the top of the float may only appear upright half
an inch above the water.

Thus you having found and fitted for the place and depth thereof, then
go home and prepare your ground-bait, which is, next to the fruit of
your labours, to be regarded.


You shall take a peck, or a peck and a half, according to the greatness
of the stream and deepness of the water, where you mean to angle, of
sweet gross-ground barley-malt; and boil it in a kettle, one or two
warms is enough: then strain it through a bag into a tub, the liquor
whereof hath often done my horse much good; and when the bag and
malt is near cold, take it down to the water-side, about eight or nine of
the clock in the evening, and not before: cast in two parts of your
ground-bait, squeezed hard between both your hands; it will sink
presently to the bottom; and be sure it may rest in the very place where
you mean to angle: if the stream run hard, or move a little, cast your
malt in handfuls a little the higher, upwards the stream. You may,
between your hands, close the malt so fast in handfuls, that the water
will hardly part it with the fall.

Your ground thus baited, and tackling fitted, leave your bag, with the
rest of your tackling and ground-bait, near the sporting-place all night;
and in the morning, about three or four of the clock, visit the water-
side, but not too near, for they have a cunning watchman, and are
watchful themselves too.

Then, gently take one of your three rods, and bait your hook; casting it
over your ground-bait, and gently and secretly draw it to you till the
lead rests about the middle of the ground-bait.

Then take a second rod, and cast in about a yard above, and your third a
yard below the first rod; and stay the rods in the ground: but go yourself
so far from the water-side, that you perceive nothing but the top of the
floats, which you must watch most diligently. Then when you have a
bite, you shall perceive the top of your float to sink suddenly into the
water: yet, nevertheless, be not too hasty to run to your rods, until you
see that the line goes clear away; then creep to the water-side, and give
as much line as possibly you can: if it be a good Carp or Bream, they
will go to the farther side of the river: then strike gently, and hold your
rod at a bent, a little while; but if you both pull together, you are sure to
lose your game, for either your line, or hook, or hold, will break: and
after you have overcome them, they will make noble sport, and are very
shy to be landed. The Carp is far stronger and more mettlesome than
the Bream.

Much more is to be observed in this kind of fish and fishing, but it is far
fitter for experience and discourse than paper. Only, thus much is
necessary for you to know, and to be mindful and careful of, that if the
Pike or Perch do breed in that river, they will be sure to bite first, and
must first be taken. And for the most part they are very large; and will
repair to your ground-bait, not that they will eat of it, but will feed and
sport themselves among the young fry that gather about and hover over
the bait.

The way to discern the Pike and to take him, it you mistrust your Bream
hook, for I have taken a Pike a yard long several times at my Bream
hooks, and sometimes he hath had the luck to share my line, may be

Take a small Bleak, or Roach, or Gudgeon, and bait it; and set it, alive,
among your rods, two feet deep from the cork, with a little red worm on
the point of the hook: then take a few crumbs of white bread, or some
of the ground-bait, and sprinkle it gently amongst your rods. If Mr. Pike
be there, then the little fish will skip out of the water at his appearance,
but the live-set bait is sure to be taken.

Thus continue your sport from four in the morning till eight, and if it be
a gloomy windy day, they will bite all day long: but this is too long to
stand to your rods, at one place; and it will spoil your evening sport that
day, which is this.

About four of the clock in the afternoon repair to your baited place; and
as soon as you come to the water-side, cast in one-half of the rest of
your ground-bait, and stand off; then whilst the fish are gathering
together, for there they will most certainly come for their supper, you
may take a pipe of tobacco: and then, in with your three rods, as in the
morning. You will find excellent sport that evening, till eight of the
clock: then cast in the residue of your ground-bait, and next morning,
by four of the clock, visit them again for four hours, which is the best
sport of all; and after that, let them rest till you and your friends have a
mind to more sport.

From St. James's-tide until Bartholomew-tide is the best; when they
have had all the summer's food, they are the fattest.

Observe, lastly, that after three or four days' fishing together, your game
will be very shy and wary, and you shall hardly get above a bite or two
at a baiting: then your only way is to desist from your sport, about two
or three days: and in the meantime, on the place you late baited, and
again intend to bait, you shall take a turf of green but short grass, as big
or bigger than a round trencher; to the top of this turf, on the green side,
you shall, with a needle and green thread, fasten one by one, as many
little red worms as will near cover all the turf: then take a round board
or trencher, make a hole in the middle thereof, and through the turf
placed on the board or trencher, with a string or cord as long as is
fitting, tied to a pole, let it down to the bottom of the water, for the fish
to feed upon without disturbance about two or three days; and after that
you have drawn it away, you may fall to, and enjoy your former

B. A.

The fourth day-continued

On the Tench

Chapter XI


The Tench, the physician of fishes, is observed to love ponds better
than rivers, and to love pits better than either: yet Camden observes,
there is a river in Dorsetshire that abounds with Tenches, but doubtless
they retire to the most deep and quiet places in it.

This fish hath very large fins, very small and smooth scales, a red circle
about his eyes, which are big and of a gold colour, and from either
angle of his mouth there hangs down a little barb. In every Tench's head
there are two little stones which foreign physicians make great use of,
but he is not commended for wholesome meat, though there be very
much use made of them for outward applications. Rondeletius says, that
at his being at Rome, he saw a great cure done by applying a Tench to
the feet of a very sick man. This, he says, was done after an unusual
manner, by certain Jews. And it is observed that many of those people
have many secrets yet unknown to Christians; secrets that have never
yet been written, hut have been since the days of their Solomon, who
knew the nature of all things, even from the cedar to the shrub,
delivered by tradition, from the father to the son, and so from
generation to generation, without writing; or, unless it were casually,
without the least communicating them to any other nation or tribe; for
to do that they account a profanation. And, yet, it is thought that they,
or some spirit worse than they, first told us, that lice, swallowed alive,
were a certain cure for the yellow-jaundice. This, and many other
medicines, were discovered by them, or by revelation; for, doubtless,
we attained them not by study

Well, this fish, besides his eating, is very useful, both dead and alive,
for the good of mankind. But I will meddle no more with that, my
honest, humble art teaches no such boldness: there are too many foolish
meddlers in physick and divinity that think themselves fit to meddle
with hidden secrets, and so bring destruction to their followers. But I'll
not meddle with them, any farther than to wish them wiser; and shall
tell you next, for I hope I may be so bold, that the Tench is the
physician of fishes, for the Pike especially, and that the Pike, being
either sick or hurt, is cured by the touch of the Tench. And it is
observed that the tyrant Pike will not be a wolf to his physician, but
forbears to devour him though he be never so hungry.

This fish, that carries a natural balsam in him to cure both himself and
others, loves yet to feed in very foul water, and amongst weeds. And
yet, I am sure, he eats pleasantly, and, doubtless, you will think so too,
if you taste him. And I shall therefore proceed to give you some few,
and but a few, directions how to catch this Tench, of which I have
given you these observations.

He will bite at a paste made of brown bread and honey, or at a Marsh-
worm, or a lob-worm; he inclines very much to any paste with which
tar is mixt, and he will bite also at a smaller worm with his head nipped
off, and a cod-worm put on the hook before that worm. And I doubt not
but that he will also, in the three hot months, for in the nine colder he
stirs not much, bite at a flag-worm or at a green gentle; but can
positively say no more of the Tench, he being a fish I have not often
angled for; but I wish my honest scholar may, and be ever fortunate
when he fishes.

The fourth day-continued

On the Perch

Chapter XII

Piscator and Venator

Piscator. The Perch is a very good and very bold biting fish. He is one
of the fishes of prey that, like the Pike and Trout, carries his teeth in his
mouth, which is very large: and he dare venture to kill and devour
several other kinds of fish. He has a hooked or hog back, which is
armed with sharp and stiff bristles, and all his skin armed, or covered
over with thick dry hard scales, and hash, which few other fish have,
two fins on his back. He is so bold that he will invade one of his own
kind, which the Pike will not do so willingly; and you may, therefore,
easily believe him to be a bold biter.

The Perch is of great esteem in Italy, saith Aldrovandus: and especially
the least are there esteemed a dainty dish. And Gesner prefers the Perch
and Pike above the Trout, or any fresh-water fish: he says the Germans
have this proverb, " More wholesome than a Perch of Rhine ": and he
says the River-Perch is so wholesome, that physicians allow him to be
eaten by wounded men, or by men in fevers, or by women in child-bed.

He spawns but once a year; and is, by physicians, held very nutritive;
yet, by many, to be hard of digestion. They abound more in the river Po,
and in England, says Rondeletius, than other parts: and have in their
brain a stone, which is, in foreign parts, sold by apothecaries, being
there noted to be very medicinable against the stone in the reins. These
be a part of the commendations which some philosophical brains have
bestowed upon the freshwater Perch: yet they commend the Sea-Perch
which is known by having but one fin on his back, of which they say we
English see but a few, to be a much better fish.

The Perch grows slowly, yet will grow, as I have been credibly
informed, to be almost two feet long; for an honest informer told me,
such a one was not long since taken by Sir Abraham Williams, a
gentleman of worth, and a brother of the angle, that yet lives, and I wish
he may: this was a deep-bodied fish, and doubtless durst have devoured
a Pike of half his own length. For I have told you, he is a bold fish; such
a one as but for extreme hunger the Pike will not devour. For to affright
the Pike, and save himself, the Perch will set up his fins, much like as a
turkey-cock will sometimes set up his tail.

But, my scholar, the Perch is not only valiant to defend himself, but he
is, as I said, a bold-biting fish: yet he will not bite at all seasons of the
year; he is very abstemious in winter, yet will bite then in the midst of
the day, if it be warm: and note, that all fish bite best about the midst of
warm day in winter. And he hath been observed, by some, not usually
to bite till the mulberry-tree buds; that is to say, till extreme frosts be
past the spring; for, when the mulberry-tree blossoms, many gardeners
observe their forward fruit to be past the danger of frosts; and some
have made the like observation of the Perch's biting.

But bite the Perch will, and that very boldly. And, as one has wittily
observed, if there be twenty or forty in a hole, they may be, at one
standing, all catched one after another; they being, as he says, like the
wicked of the world, not afraid, though their fellows and companions
perish in their sight. And you may observe, that they are not like the
solitary Pike, but love to accompany one another, and march together in

And the baits for this bold fish are not many: I mean, he will bite as
well at some, or at any of these three, as at any or all others whatsoever:
a worm, a minnow, or a little frog, of which you may find many in hay-
time. And of worms; the dunghill worm called a brandling I take to be
best, being well scoured in moss or fennel; or he will bite at a worm
that lies under cow-dung, with a bluish head. And if you rove for a
Perch with a minnow, then it is best to be alive; you sticking your hook
through his back fin; or a minnow with the hook in his upper lip, and
letting him swim up and down, about mid-water, or a little lower, and
you still keeping him to about that depth by a cork, which ought not to
be a very little one: and the like way you are to fish for the Perch with a
small frog, your hook being fastened through the skin of his leg,
towards the upper part of it: and, lastly, I will give you but this advice,
that you give the Perch time enough when he bites; for there was scarce
ever any angler that has given him too much. And now I think best to
rest myself; for I have almost spent my spirits with talking so long.

Venator. Nay, good master, one fish more, for you see it rains still: and
you know our angles are like money put to usury; they may thrive,
though we sit still, and do nothing but talk and enjoy one another.
Come, come, the other fish, good master.

Piscator. But, scholar, have you nothing to mix with this discourse,
which now grows both tedious and tiresome ? Shall I have nothing from
you, that seem to have both a good memory and a cheerful spirit?

Venator. Yes, master, I will speak you a copy of verses that were made
by Doctor Donne, and made to shew the world that he could make soft
and smooth verses, when he thought smoothness worth his labour: and I
love them the better, because they allude to Rivers, and Fish and
Fishing. They be these:

Come, live with me, and be my love,
And we will some new pleasures prove,
Of golden sands, and crystal brooks,
With silken lines, and silver hooks.

There will the river whisp'ring run,
Warm'd by thy eyes more than the sun
And there the enamel'd fish will stay
Begging themselves they may betray.

When thou wilt swim in that live bath,
Each fish, which every channel hash,
Most amorously to thee will swim,
Gladder to catch thee. than thou him.

If thou, to be so seen, beest loath
By sun or moon, thou dark'nest both;
And if mine eyes have leave to see,
I need not their light, having thee,

Let others freeze with angling reeds,
And cut their legs with shells and weeds,
Or treacherously poor fish beset
With strangling snares or windowy net;

Let coarse bold hands, from slimy nest,
The bedded fish in banks outwrest;
Let curious traitors sleeve silk flies,
To 'witch poor wand'ring fishes' eyes.

For thee, thou need'st no such deceit,
For thou thyself art shine own bait;
That fish that is not catcht thereby,
Is wiser afar, alas, than I.

Piscator. Well remembered, honest scholar. I thank you for these choice
verses; which I have heard formerly, but had quite forgot, till they were
recovered by your happy memory. Well, being I have now rested myself
a little, I will make you some requital, by telling you some observations
of the Eel; for it rains still: and because, as you say, our angles are as
money put to use, that thrives when we play, therefore we'll sit still, and
enjoy ourselves a little longer under this honeysuckle hedge.

The fourth day-continued

Of the Eel, and other Fish that want Scales

Chapter XIII


It is agreed by most men, that the Eel is a most dainty fish: the Romans
have esteemed her the Helena of their feasts; and some the queen of
palate-pleasure. But most men differ about their breeding: some say
they breed by generation, as other fish do; and others, that they breed,
as some worms do, of mud; as rats and mice, and many other living
creatures, are bred in Egypt, by the sun's heat when it shines upon the
overflowing of the river Nilus; or out of the putrefaction of the earth,
and divers other ways. Those that deny them to breed by generation, as
other fish do, ask, If any man ever saw an Eel to have a spawn or melt ?
And they are answered, That they may be as certain of their breeding as
if they had seen spawn; for they say, that they are certain that Eels have
all parts fit for generation, like other fish, but so small as not to be
easily discerned, by reason of their fatness; but that discerned they may
be; and that the He and the She Eel may be distinguished by their fins.
And Rondeletius says, he has seen Eels cling together like dew-worms.

And others say, that Eels, growing old, breed other Eels out of the
corruption of their own age; which, Sir Francis Bacon says, exceeds not
ten years. And others say, that as pearls are made of glutinous
dewdrops, which are condensed by the sun's heat in those countries, so
Eels are bred of a particular dew, falling in the months of May or June
on the banks of some particular ponds or rivers, apted by nature for that
end; which in a few clays are, by the sun's heat, turned into Eels: and
some of the Ancients have called the Eels that are thus bred, the
offspring of Jove. I have seen, in the beginning of July, in a river not far
from Canterbury, some parts of it covered over with young Eels, about
the thickness of a straw; and these Eels did lie on the top of that water,
as thick as motes are said to be in the sun: and I have heard the like of
other rivers, as namely, in Severn, where they are called Yelvers; and in
a pond, or mere near unto Staffordshire, where, about a set time in
summer, such small Eels abound so much, that many of the poorer sort
of people that inhabit near to it, take such Eels out of this mere with
sieves or sheets; and make a kind of Eel-cake of them, and eat it like as
bread. And Gesner quotes Venerable Bede, to say, that in England there
is an island called Ely, by reason of the innumerable number of Eels
that breed in it. But that Eels may be bred as some worms, and some
kind of bees and wasps are, either of dew, or out of the corruption of
the earth, seems to be made probable by the barnacles and young
goslings bred by the sun's heat and the rotten planks of an old ship, and
hatched of trees; both which are related for truths by Du Bartas and
Lobel, and also by our learned Camden, and laborious Gerhard in his

It is said by Rondeletius, that those Eels that are bred in rivers that
relate to or be nearer to the sea, never return to the fresh waters, as the
Salmon does always desire to do, when they have once tasted the salt
water; and I do the more easily believe this, because I am certain that
powdered beef is a most excellent bait to catch an Eel. And though Sir
Francis Bacon will allow the Eel's life to be but ten years, yet he, in his
History of Life and Death, mentions a Lamprey, belonging to the
Roman emperor, to be made tame, and so kept for almost threescorc
years; and that such useful and pleasant observations were made of this
Lamprey, that Crassus the orator, who kept her, lamented her death;
and we read in Doctor Hakewill, that Hortensius was seen to weep at
the death of a Lamprey that he had kept long, and loved exceedingly.

It is granted by all, or most men, that Eels, for about six months, that is
to say, the six cold months of the year, stir not up or down, neither in
the rivers, nor in the pools in which they usually are, but get into the
soft earth or mud; and there many of them together bed themselves, and
live without feeding upon anything, as I have told you some swallows
have been observed to do in hollow trees, for those six cold months.
And this the Eel and Swallow do, as not being able to endure winter
weather: for Gesner quotes Albertus to say, that in the year 1125, that
year's winter being more cold than usually, Eels did, by nature's instinct,
get out of the water into a stack of hay in a meadow upon dry ground;
and there bedded themselves: but yet, at last, a frost killed them. And
our Camden relates, that, in Lancashire, fishes were digged out of the
earth with spades, where no water was near to the place. I shall say
little more of the Eel, but that, as it is observed he is impatient of cold,
so it hath been observed, that, in warm weather, an Eel has been known
to live five days out of the water.

And lastly, let me tell you, that some curious searchers into the natures
of fish observe, that there be several sorts or kinds of Eels; as the silver
Eel, the green or greenish Eel, with which the river of Thames abounds,
and those are called Grigs; and a blackish Eel, whose head is more flat
and bigger than ordinary Eels; and also an Eel whose fins are reddish,
and but seldom taken in this nation, and yet taken sometimes. These
several kind of Eels are, say some, diversely bred; as, namely, out of the
corruption of the earth; and some by dew, and other ways, as I have
said to you: and yet it is affirmed by some for a certain, that the silver
Eel is bred by generation, but not by spawning as other fish do; but that
her brood come alive from her, being then little live Eels no bigger nor
longer than a pin; and I have had too many testimonies of this, to doubt
the truth of it myself; and if I thought it needful I might prove it, but I
think it is needless.

And this Eel, of which I have said so much to you, may be caught with
divers kinds of baits: as namely, with powdered beef; with a lob or
garden worm; with a minnow; or gut of a hen, chicken, or the guts of
any fish, or with almost anything, for he is a greedy fish. But the Eel
may be caught, especially, with a little, a very little Lamprey, which
some call a Pride, and may, in the hot months, be found many of them
in the river Thames, and in many mud-heaps in other rivers; yea, almost
as usually as one finds worms in a dunghill.

Next note, that the Eel seldom stirs in the day, but then hides himself;
and therefore he is usually caught by night, with one of these baits of
which I have spoken; and may be then caught by laying hooks, which
you are to fasten to the bank, or twigs of a tree; or by throwing a string
across the stream, with many hooks at it, and those baited with the
aforesaid baits; and a clod, or plummet, or stone, thrown into the river
with this line, that so you may in the morning find it near to some fixed
place; and then take it up with a drag-hook, or otherwise. But these
things are, indeed, too common to be spoken of; and an hour's fishing
with any angler will teach you better, both for these and many other
common things in the practical part of angling, than a week's discourse.
I shall therefore conclude this direction for taking the Eel, by telling
you, that in a warm day in summer, I have taken many a good Eel by
Snigling, and have been much pleased with that sport.

And because you, that are but a young angler, know not what Snigling
is I will now teach it to you. You remember I told you that Eels do not
usually stir in the daytime; for then they hide themselves under some
covert; or under boards or planks about flood-gates, or weirs, or mills:
or in holes on the river banks: so that you, observing your time in a
warm day, when the water is lowest, may take a strong small hook, tied
to a strong line, or to a string about a yard long; and then into one of
these holes, or between any boards about a mill, or under any great
stone or plank, or any place where you think an Eel may hide or shelter
herself, you may, with the help of a short stick, put in y our bait, but
leisurely, and as far as you may conveniently; and it is scarce to be
doubted, but if there be an Eel within the sight of it, the Eel will bite
instantly, and as certainly gorge it; and you need not doubt to have him
if you pull him not out of the hole too quickly, but pull him out by
degrees; for he, lying folded double in his hole, will, with the help of
his tail, break all, unless you give him time to be wearied with pulling,
and so get him out by degrees, not pulling too hard.

And to commute for your patient hearing this long direction, I shall
next tell you, How to make this Eel a most excellent dish of meat.

First, wash him in water and salt; then pull off his skin below his vent
or navel, and not much further: having done that, take out his guts as
clean as you can, but wash him not: then give him three or four
scotches with a knife; and then put into his belly and those scotches,
sweet herbs, an anchovy, and a little nutmeg grated or cut very small,
and your herbs and anchovies must also be cut very small; and mixt
with good butter and salt: having done this, then pull his skin over him,
all but his head, which you are to cut off, to the end you may tie his
skin about that part where his head grew, and it must be so tied as to
keep all his moisture within his skin: and having done this, tie him with
tape or packthread to a spit, and roast him leisurely; and baste him with
water and salt till his skin breaks, and then with butter; and having
roasted him enough, let what was put into his belly, and what he drips,
be his sauce. S. F.

When I go to dress an Eel thus, I wish he were as long and as big as that
which was caught in Peterborough river, in the year 1667; which was a
yard and three quarters long. If you will not believe me, then go and see
at one of the coffee-houses in King Street in Westminster.

But now let me tell you, that though the Eel, thus drest, be not only
excellent good, but more harmless than any other way, yet it is certain
that physicians account the Eel dangerous meat; I will advise you
therefore, as Solomon says of honey, " Hast thou found it, eat no more
than is sufficient, lest thou surfeit, for it is not good to eat much honey
". And let me add this, that the uncharitable Italian bids us " give Eels
and no wine to our enemies ".

And I will beg a little more of your attention, to tell you, that
Aldrovandus, and divers physicians, commend the Eel very much for
medicine, though not for meat. But let me tell you one observation, that
the Eel is never out of season; as Trouts, and most other fish, are at set
times; at least, most Eels are not.

I might here speak of many other fish, whose shape and nature are
much like the Eel, and frequent both the sea and fresh rivers; as,
namely, the Lamprel, the Lamprey, and the Lamperne: as also of the
mighty Conger, taken often in Severn, about Gloucester: and might also
tell in what high esteem many of them are for the curiosity of their
taste. But these are not so proper to be talked of by me, because they
make us anglers no sport; therefore I will let them alone, as the Jews
do, to whom they are forbidden by their law.

And, scholar, there is also a FLOUNDER, a sea-fish which will wander
very far into fresh rivers, and there lose himself and dwell: and thrive to
a hand's breadth, and almost twice so long: a fish without scales, and
most excellent meat: and a fish that affords much sport to the angler,
with any small worm, but especially a little bluish worm, gotten out of
marsh-ground, or meadows, which should be well scoured. But this,
though it be most excellent meat, yet it wants scales, and is, as I told
you, therefore an abomination to the Jews.

But, scholar, there is a fish that they in Lancashire boast very much of,
called a CHAR; taken there, and I think there only, in a mere called
Winander Mere; a mere, says Camden, that is the largest in this nation,
being ten miles in length, and some say as smooth in the bottom as if it
were paved with polished marble. This fish never exceeds fifteen or
sixteen inches in length; and is spotted like a Trout: and has scarce a
bone, but on the back. But this, though I do not know whether it make
the angler sport, yet I would have you take notice of it, because it is a
rarity, and of so high esteem with persons of great note.

Nor would I have you ignorant of a rare fish called a GUINIAD; of
which I shall tell you what Camden and others speak. The river Dee,
which runs by Chester, springs in Merionethshire; and, as it runs toward
Chester, it runs through Pemble Mere, which is a large water: and it is
observed, that though the river Dee abounds with Salmon, and Pemble
mere with the (Guiniad, yet there is never any Salmon caught in the
mere, nor a Guiniad in the river. And now my next observation shall be
of the Barbel.

The fourth day-continued

Of the Barbel

Chapter XIV

Piscator, Venator, Milk-woman

Piscator. The Barbel is so called, says Gesner, by reason of his barb or
wattles at his mouth, which are under his nose or chaps. He is one of
those leather-mouthed fishes that I told you of, that does very seldom
break his hold if he be once hooked: but he is so strong, that he will
often break both rod and line, if he proves to be a big one.

But the Barbel, though he be of a fine shape, and looks big, yet he is not
accounted the best fish to eat, neither for his wholesomeness nor his
taste; but the male is reputed much better than the female, whose spawn
is very hurtful, as I will presently declare to you.

They flock together like sheep, and are at the worst in April, about
which time they spawn; but quickly grow to be in season. He is able to
live in the strongest swifts of the water: and, in summer, they love the
shallowest and sharpest streams: and love to lurk under weeds, and to
feed on gravel, against a rising ground; and will root and dig in the
sands with his nose like a hog, and there nests himself: yet sometimes
he retires to deep and swift bridges, or flood-gates, or weir; where he
will nest himself amongst piles, or in hollow places; and take such hold
of moss or weeds, that be the water never so swift, it is not able to force
him from the place that he contends for. This is his constant custom in
summer, when he and most living creatures sport themselves in the sun:
but at the approach of winter, then he forsakes the swift streams and
shallow waters, and, by degrees, retires to those parts of the river that
are quiet and deeper; in which places, and I think about that time he
spawns; and, as I have formerly told you, with the help of the melter,
hides his spawn or eggs in holes, which they both dig in the gravel; and
then they mutually labour to cover it with the same sand, to prevent it
from being devoured by other fish.

There be such store of this fish in the river Danube, that Rondeletius
says they may, in some places of it, and in some months of the year, be
taken, by those who dwell near to the river, with their hands, eight or
ten load at a time. He says, they begin to be good in May, and that they
cease to be so in August: but it is found to be otherwise in this nation.
But thus far we agree with him, that the spawn of a Barbel, if it be not
poison, as he says, yet that it is dangerous meat, and especially in the
month of May, which is so certain, that Gesner and Gasius declare it
had an ill effect upon them, even to the endangering of their lives.

The fish is of a fine cast and handsome shape, with small scales, which
are placed after a most exact and curious manner, and, as I told you,
may be rather said not to be ill, than to be good meat, The Chub and he
have, I think, both lost part of their credit by ill cookery; they being
reputed the worst, or coarsest, of fresh-water fish. But the Barbel
affords an angler choice sport, being a lusty and a cunning fish; so lusty
and cunning as to endanger the breaking of the angler's line, by running
his head forcibly towards any covert, or hole, or bank, and then striking
at the line, to break it off, with his tail; as is observed by Plutarch, in his
book De Industria Animalium: and also so cunning, to nibble and suck
off your worm close to the hook, and yet avoid the letting the hook
come into his mouth.

The Barbel is also curious for his baits; that is to say, that they be clean
and sweet; that is to say, to have your worms well scoured, and not kept
in sour and musty moss, for he is a curious feeder: but at a well-scoured
lob-worm he will bite as boldly as at any bait, and specially if, the night
or two before you fish for him, you shall bait the places where you
intend to fish for him, with big worms cut into pieces. And note, that
none did ever over-bait the place, nor fish too early or too late for a
Barbel. And the Barbel will bite also at generals, which, not being too
much scoured, but green, are a choice bait for him: and so is cheese,
which is not to be too hard, but kept a day or two in a wet linen cloth, to
make it tough; with this you may also bait the water a day or two before
you fish for the Barbel, and be much the likelier to catch store; and if
the cheese were laid in clarified honey a short time before, as namely,
an hour or two, you were still the likelier to catch fish. Some have
directed to cut the cheese into thin pieces, and toast it; and then tie it on
the hook with fine silk. And some advise to fish for the Barbel with
sheep's tallow and soft cheese, beaten or worked into a paste; and that it
is choicely good in August: and I believe it. Rut, doubtless, the lob-
worm well scoured, and the gentle not too much scoured, and cheese
ordered as I have directed, are baits enough, and I think will serve in
any month: though I shall commend any angler that tries conclusions,
and is industrious to improve the art And now my honest scholar, the
long shower and my tedious discourse are both ended together: and I
shall give you but this observation, that when you fish for a Barbel,
your rod and line be both long and of good strength; for, as I told you,
you will find him a heavy and a dogged fish to be dealt withal; yet he
seldom or never breaks his hold, if he be once strucken. And if you
would know more of fishing for the Umber or Barbel, get into favour
with Dr. Sheldon, whose skill is above others; and of that, the poor that
dwell about him have a comfortable experience.

And now let's go and see what interest the Trouts will pay us, for letting
our angle-rods lie so long and so quietly in the water for their use.
Come, scholar, which will you take up ?

Venator. Which you think fit, master.

Piscator. Why, you shall take up that; for I am certain, by viewing the
line, it has a fish at it. Look you, scholar! well done! Come, now take
up the other too: well! now you may tell my brother Peter, at night, that
you have caught a leash of Trouts this day. And now let's move towards
our lodging, and drink a draught of red-cow's milk as we go; and give
pretty Maudlin and her honest mother a brace of Trouts for their

Venator. Master, I like your motion very well: and I think it is now
about milking-time; and yonder they be at it

Piscator. God speed you, good woman ! I thank you both for our songs
last night: I and my companion have had such fortune a-fishing this day,
that we resolve to give you and Maudlin a brace of Trouts for supper;
and we will now taste a draught of your red-cow's milk.

Milk-woman. Marry, and that you shall with all my heart; and I will be
still your debtor when you come this way. If you will but speak the
word, I will make you a good syllabub of new verjuice; and then you
may sit down in a haycock, and eat it; and Maudlin shall sit by and sing
you the good old song of the " Hunting in Chevy Chace, " or some
other good ballad, for she hath store of them: Maudlin, my honest
Maudlin, hath a notable memory, and she thinks nothing too good for
you, because you be such honest men.

Venator. We thank you; and intend, once in a month to call upon you
again, and give you a little warning; and so, good-night Good-night,
Maudlin. And now, good master, let's lose no time: but tell me
somewhat more of fishing; and if you please, first, something of fishing
for a Gudgeon.

Piscator. I will, honest scholar.

The fourth day-continued

Of the Gudgeon, the Ruffe, and the Bleak

Chapter XV


The GUDGEON is reputed a fish of excellent taste, and to be very
wholesome. He is of a fine shape, of a silver colour, and beautified with
black spots both on his body and tail. He breeds two or three times in
the year; and always in summer. He is commended for a fish of
excellent nourishment. The Germans call him Groundling, by reason of
his feeding on the ground; and he there feasts himself, in sharp streams
and on the gravel. He and the Barbel both feed so: and do not hunt for
flies at any time, as most other fishes do. He is an excellent fish to enter
a young angler, being easy to be taken with a small red worm, on or
very near to the ground. He is one of those leather-mouthed fish that
has his teeth in his throat, and will hardly be lost off from the hook if he
be once strucken.

They be usually scattered up and down every river in the shallows, in
the heat of summer: but in autumn, when the weeds begin to grow sour
and rot, and the weather colder, then they gather together, and get into
the deeper parts of the water; and are to be fished for there, with your
hook always touching the ground, if you fish for him with a float or
with a cork. But many will fish for the Gudgeon by hand, with a
running line upon the ground, without a cork, as a Trout is fished for:
and it is an excellent way, if you have a gentle rod, and as gentle a

There is also another fish called a POPE, and by some a RUFFE; a fish
that is not known to be in some rivers: he is much like the Perch for his
shape, and taken to be better than the Perch, but will not grow to be
bigger than a Gudgeon. He is an excellent fish; no fish that swims is of
a pleasanter taste. And he is also excellent to enter a young angler, for
he is a greedy biter: and they will usually lie, abundance of them
together, in one reserved place, where the water is deep and runs
quietly; and an easy angler, if he has found where they lie, may catch
forty or fifty, or sometimes twice so many, at a standing.

You must fish for him with a small red worm; and if you bait the
ground with earth, it is excellent.

There is also a BLEAK or fresh-water Sprat; a fish that is ever in
motion, and therefore called by some the river-swallow; for just as you
shall observe the swallow to be, most evenings in summer, ever in
motion, making short and quick turns when he flies to catch flies, in the
air, by which he lives; so does the Bleak at the top of the water.
Ausonius would have called him Bleak from his whitish colour: his
back is of a pleasant sad or sea-water-green; his belly, white and
shining as the mountain snow. And doubtless, though we have the
fortune, which virtue has in poor people, to be neglected, yet the Bleak
ought to be much valued, though we want Allamot salt, and the skill
that the Italians have, to turn them into anchovies. This fish may be
caught with a Pater-noster line; that is, six or eight very small hooks
tied along the line, one half a foot above the other: I have seen five
caught thus at one time; and the bait has been gentles, than which none
is better.

Or this fish may be caught with a fine small artificial fly, which is to be
of a very sad brown colour, and very small, and the hook answerable.
There is no better sport than whipping for Bleaks in a boat, or on a
bank, in the swift water, in a summer's evening, with a hazel top about
five or six foot long, and a line twice the length of the rod. I have heard
Sir Henry Wotton say, that there be many that in Italy will catch
swallows so, or especially martins; this bird-angler standing on the top
of a steeple to do it, and with the line twice so long as I have spoken of.
And let me tell you, scholar, that both Martins and Bleaks be most
excellent meat

And let me tell you, that I have known a Heron, that did constantly
frequent one place, caught with a hook baited with a big minnow or a
small gudgeon. The line and hook must be strong: and tied to some
loose staff, so big as she cannot fly away with it: a line not exceeding
two yards.

The fourth day-continued

Is of nothing, or of nothing worth

Chapter XVI

Piscator, Venator, Peter, Coridon

Piscator. My purpose was to give you some directions concerning
ROACH and DACE, and some other inferior fish which make the
angler excellent sport; for you know there is more pleasure in hunting
the hare than in eating her: but I will forbear, at this time, to say any
more, because you see yonder come our brother Peter and honest
Coridon. But I will promise you, that as you and I fish and walk to-
morrow towards London, if I have now forgotten anything that I can
then remember, I will not keep it from you.

Well met, gentlemen; this is lucky that we meet so just together at this
very door, Come, hostess, where are you ? is supper ready ? Come, first
give us a drink; and be as quick as you can, for I believe we are all very
hungry. Well, brother Peter and Coridon, to you both! Come, drink: and
then tell me what luck of fish: we two have caught but ten bouts, of
which my scholar caught three. Look! here's eight; and a brace we gave
away. We have had a most pleasant day for fishing and talking, and are
returned home both weary and hungry; and now meat and rest will be

Peter. And Coridon and I have not had an unpleasant day: and yet I
have caught but five bouts; for, indeed, we went to a good honest ale-
house, and there we played at shovel-board half the day; all the time
that it rained we were there, and as merry as they that fished. And I am
glad we are now with a dry house over our heads; for, hark ! how it
rains and blows. Come, hostess, give us more ale, and our supper with
what haste you may: and when we have supped, let us have your song,
Piscator; and the catch that your scholar promised us; or else, Coridon
will be dogged.

Piscator. Nay, I will not be worse than my word; you shall not want my
song, and I hope I shall be perfect in it

Venator. And I hope the like for my catch, which I have ready too: and
therefore let's go merrily to supper, and then have a gentle touch at
singing and drinking; but the last with moderation.

Coridon. Come, now for your song; for we have fed heartily. Come,
hostess, lay a few more sticks on the fire. And now, sing when you will.

Piscator. Well then, here s to you, Coridon; and now for my song.

O the gallant Fisher's life,
It is the best of any;
'Tis full of pleasure, void of strife,
And 'tis beloved of many:
Other joys
Are but toys;
Only this
Lawful is;
For our skill
Breeds no ill,
But content and pleasure.

In a morning up we rise
Ere Aurora's peeping,
Drink a cup to wash our eyes.
Leave the sluggard sleeping;
Then we go
To and fro,
With our knacks
At our backs
To such streams
As the Thames
If we have the leisure.

When we please to walk abroad
For our recreation,
In the fields is our abode,
Full of delectation:
Where in a brook
With a hook
Or a lake
Fish we take:
There we sit For a bit,
Till we fish entangle.

We have gentles in a horn,
We have paste and worms too
We can watch both night and morn,
Suffer rain and storms too;
None do here
Use to swear;
Oaths do fray
Fish away;
We sit still,
And watch our quill
Fishers must not wrangle.

If the sun's excessive heat
Make our bodies swelter,
To an osier hedge we get
For a friendly shelter
Where, in a dike,
Perch or Pike
Roach or Dace
We do chase Bleak or Gudgeon,
Without grudging
We are still contented.

Or we sometimes pass an hour
Under a green willow,
That defends us from a shower,
Making earth our pillow;
Where we may
Think and pray
Before death
Stops our breath.
Other joys
Are but toys,
And to be lamented.

Jo. Chalkhill.

Venator. Well sung, master; this day s fortune and pleasure, and the
night's company and song, do all make me more and more in love with
angling. Gentlemen, my master left me alone for an hour this day; and I
verily believe he retired himself from talking with me that he might be
so perfect in this song; was it not, master?

Piscator. Yes indeed, for it is many years since I learned it; and having
forgotten a part of it, I was forced to patch it up with the help of mine
own invention, who am not excellent at poetry, as my part of the song
may testify; but of that I will say no more, lest you should think I mean,
by discommending it, to beg your commendations of it. And therefore,
without replications, let's hear your catch, scholar; which I hope will be
a good one, for you are both musical and have a good fancy to boot.

Venator. Marry, and that you shall; and as freely as I would have my
honest master tell me some more secrets of fish and fishing, as we walk
and fish towards London to-morrow. But, master, first let me tell you,
that very hour which you were absent from me, I sat down under a
willow-tree by the water-side, and considered what you had told me of
the owner of that pleasant meadow in which you then left me; that he
had a plentiful estate, and not a heart to think so ; that he had at this
time many law-suits depending; and that they both damped his mirth,
and took up so much of his time and thoughts, that he himself had not
leisure to take the sweet content that I, who pretended no title to them,
took in his fields: for I could there sit quietly; and looking on the water,
see some fishes sport themselves in the silver streams, others leaping at
flies of several shapes and colours; looking on the hills, I could behold
them spotted with woods and groves; looking down the meadows,
could see, here a boy gathering lilies and lady-smocks, and there a girl
cropping culverkeys and cowslips, all to make garlands suitable to this
present month of May: these, and many other field flowers, so
perfumed the air, that I thought that very meadow like that field in
Sicily of which Diodorus speaks, where the perfumes arising from the
place make all dogs that hunt in it to fall off, and to lose their hottest
scent I say, as I thus sat, joying in my own happy condition, and pitying
this poor rich man that owned this and many other pleasant groves and
meadows about me, I did thankfully remember what my Saviour said,
that the meek possess the earth; or rather, they enjoy what the others
possess, and enjoy not; for anglers and meek quiet-spirited men are free
from those high, those restless thoughts, which corrode the sweets of
life; and they, and they only, can say, as the poet has happily express it,

Hail ! blest estate of lowliness;
Happy enjoyments of such minds
As, rich in self-contentedness,
Can, like the reeds, in roughest winds,
By yielding make that blow but small
At which proud oaks and cedars fall.

There came also into my mind at that time certain verses in praise of a
mean estate and humble mind: they were written by Phineas Fletcher,
an excellent divine, and an excellent angler; and the author of excellent
Piscatory Eclogues, in which you shall see the picture of this good
man's mind: and I wish mine to be like it.

No empty hopes, no courtly fears him fright;
No begging wants his middle fortune bite:
But sweet content exiles both misery and spite.

His certain life, that never can deceive him,
Is full of thousand sweets and rich content
The smooth-leav'd beeches in the field receive him,
With coolest shade, till noon-tide's heat be spent.
His life is neither tost in boisterous, seas,
Or the vexatious world, or lost in slothful ease;
Please and full blest he lives when he his God can please.

His bed, more safe than soft, yields quiet sleeps,
While by his side his faithful spouse teas place
His little son into his bosom creeps,
The lively picture of his father's face.
His humble house or poor state ne'er torment him
Less he could like, if less his God had lent him;
And when he dies, green turfs do for a tomb content him,

Gentlemen, these were a part of the thoughts that then possessed me.
And I there made a conversion of a piece of an old catch, and added
more to it, fitting them to be sung by us anglers. Come, Master, you can
sing well: you must sing a part of it. as it is in this paper.

Man's life is but vain, for 'tis subject to pain,
And sorrow, and short as a bubble;
'Tis a hodge-podge of business, and money, and care,
And care, and money, and trouble.

But we'll take no care when the weather proves fair;
Nor will we vex now though it rain;
We'll banish all sorrow, and sing till to-morrow,
And angle. and angle again.

Peter. I marry, Sir, this is musick indeed; this has cheer'd my heart, and
made me remember six verses in praise of musick, which I will speak
to you instantly.

Musick ! miraculous rhetorick, thou speak'st sense
Without a tongue, excelling eloquence ;
With what ease might thy errors be excus'd,
Wert thou as truly lov'd as th' art abus'd!
But though dull souls neglect, and some reprove thee,
I cannot hate thee, 'cause the Angels love thee.

Venator. And the repetition of these last verses of musick has called to
my memory what Mr. Edmund Waller, a lover of the angle, says of love
and musick

Whilst I listen to thy voice,
Chloris! I feel my heart decay
That powerful voice
Calls my fleeting soul away:
Oh! suppress that magic sound,
Which destroys without a wound.

Peace, Chloris! peace, or singing die,
That together you and I
To heaven may go;
For all we know
Of what the blessed do above
Is, that they sing, and that they love.

Piscator. Well remembered, brother Peter; these verses came
seasonably, and we thank you heartily. Come, we will all join together,
my host and all, and sing my scholar's catch over again; and then each
man drink the tother cup, and to bed; and thank God we have a dry
house over our heads.

Piscator. Well, now, good-night to everybody. Peter. And so say I.

Venator. And so say I.

Coridon. Good-night to you all; and I thank you.

The FIFTH day.

Piscator. Good-morrow, brother Peter, and the like to you, honest

Come, my hostess says there is seven shillings to pay: let's each man
drink a pot for his morning's draught, and lay down his two shillings, so
that my hostess may not have occasion to repent herself of being so
diligent, and using us so kindly.

Peter. The motion is liked by everybody, and so, hostess, here's your
money: we anglers are all beholden to you; it will not be long ere I'll see
you again; and now, brother Piscator, I wish you, and my brother your
scholar, a fair day and good fortune. Come, Coridon, this is our way.

The FIFTH day-continued

Of Roack and Dace

Chapter XVII

Venator and Piscator

Venator. Good master, as we go now towards London, be still so
courteous as to give me more instructions; for I have several boxes in
my memory, in which I will keep them all very safe, there shall not one
of them be lost.

Piscator. Well, scholar, that I will: and I will hide nothing from you that
I can remember, and can think may help you forward towards a
perfection in this art. And because we have so much time, and I have
said so little of Roach and Dace, I will give you some directions
concerning them.

Some say the Roach is so called from rutilus, which they say signifies
red fins. He is a fish of no great reputation for his dainty taste; and his
spawn is accounted much better than any other part of him. And you
may take notice, that as the Carp is accounted the water-fox, for his
cunning; so the Roach is accounted the water-sheep, for his simplicity
or foolishness. It is noted, that the Roach and Dace recover strength,
and grow in season in a fortnight after spawning; the Barbel and Chub
in a month; the Trout in four months; and the Salmon in the like time,
if he gets into the sea, and after into fresh water.

Roaches be accounted much better in the river than in a pond, though
ponds usually breed the biggest. But there is a kind of bastard small
Roach, that breeds in ponds, with a very forked tail, and of a very small
size; which some say is bred by the Bream and right Roach; and some
ponds are stored with these beyond belief; and knowing-men, that know
their difference, call them Ruds: they differ from the true Roach, as
much as a Herring from a Pilchard. And these bastard breed of Roach
are now scattered in many rivers: but I think not in the Thames, which I
believe affords the largest and fattest in this nation, especially below
London Bridge. The Roach is a leather-mouthed fish, and has a kind of
saw-like teeth in his throat. And lastly, let me tell you, the Roach makes
an angler excellent sport, especially the great Roaches about London,
where I think there be the best Roach-anglers. And I think the best
Trout-anglers be in Derbyshire; for the waters there are clear to an

Next, let me tell you, you shall fish for this Roach in Winter, with paste
or gentles; in April, with worms or cadis; in the very hot months, with
little white snails; or with flies under water, for he seldom takes them at
the top, though the Dace will. In many of the hot months, Roaches may
also be caught thus: take a May-fly, or ant-fly, sink him with a little
lead to the bottom, near to the piles or posts of a bridge, or near to any
posts of a weir, I mean any deep place where Roaches lie quietly, and
then pull your fly up very leisurely, and usually a Roach will follow
your bait up to the very top of the water, and gaze on it there, and run at
it, and take it, lest the fly should fly away from him.

I have seen this done at Windsor and Henley Bridge, and great store of
Roach taken; and sometimes, a Dace or Chub. And in August you may
fish for them with a paste made only of the crumbs of bread, which
should be of pure fine manchet; and that paste must be so tempered
betwixt your hands till it be both soft and tough too: a very little water,
and time, and labour, and clean hands, will make it a most excellent
paste. But when you fish with it, you must have a small hook, a quick
eye, and a nimble hand, or the bait is lost, and the fish too; if one may
lose that which he never had. With this paste you may, as I said, take
both the Roach and the Dace or Dare; for they be much of a kind, in
manner of feeding, cunning, goodness, and usually in size. And
therefore take this general direction, for some other baits which may
concern you to take notice of: they will bite almost at any fly, but
especially at ant-flies; concerning which take this direction, for it is
very good.

Take the blackish ant-fly out of the mole-hill or ant-hill, in which place
you shall find them in the month of June; or if that be too early in the
year, then, doubtless, you may find them in July, August, and most of
September. Gather them alive, with both their wings: and then put them
into a glass that will hold a quart or a pottle; but first put into the glass a
handful, or more, of the moist earth out of which you gather them, and
as much of the roots of the grass of the said hillock; and then put in the
flies gently, that they lose not their wings: lay a clod of earth over it;
and then so many as are put into the glass, without bruising, will live
there a month or more, and be always in readiness for you to fish with:
but if you would have them keep longer, then get any great earthen pot,
or barrel of three or four gallons. which is better. then wash your barrel
with water and honey; and having put into it a quantity of earth and
grass roots, then put in your flies, and cover it, and they will live a
quarter of a year. These, in any stream and clear water, are a deadly bait
for Roach or Dace, or for a Chub: and your rule is to fish not less than a
handful from the bottom.

I shall next tell you a winter-bait for a Roach, a Dace, or Chub; and it is
choicely good. About All-hallantide, and so till frost comes, when you
see men ploughing up heath ground, or sandy ground, or greenswards,
then follow the plough, and you shall find a white worm, as big as two
maggots, and it hath a red head: you may observe in what ground most
are, for there the crows will be very watchful and follow the plough
very close: it is all soft, and full of whitish guts; a worm that is, in
Norfolk and some other counties, called a grub; and is bred of the
spawn or eggs of a beetle, which she leaves in holes that she digs in the
ground under cow or horse dung, and there rests all winter, and in
March or April comes to be first a red and then a black beetle. Gather a
thousand or two of these, and put them, with a peck or two of their own
earth, into some tub or firkin, and cover and keep them so warm that
the frost or cold air, or winds, kill them not: these you may keep all
winter, and kill fish with them at any time; and if you put some of them
into a little earth and honey, a day before you use them, you will find
them an excellent bait for Bream, Carp, or indeed for almost any fish.

And after this manner you may also keep gentles all winter; which are a
good bait then, and much the better for being lively and tough. Or you
may breed and keep gentles thus: take a piece of beast's liver, and, with
a cross stick, hang it in some corner, over a pot or barrel half full of dry
clay; and as the gentles grow big, they will fall into the barrel and scour
themselves, and be always ready for use whensoever you incline to fish;
and these gentles may be thus created till after Michaelmas. But if you
desire to keep gentles to fish with all the year, then get a dead cat, or a
kite, and let it be flyblown; and when the gentles begin to be alive and
to stir, then bury it and them in soft moist earth, but as free from frost
as you can; and these you may dig up at any time when you intend to
use them: these will last till March, and about that time turn to be flies.

But if you be nice to foul your fingers, which good anglers seldom are,
then take this bait: get a handful of well-made malt, and put it into a
dish of water; and then was]l and rub it betwixt your hands till you
make it clean, and as free from husks as you can; then put that water
from it, and put a small quantity of fresh water to it, and set it in
something that is fit for that purpose, over the fire, where it is not to
boil apace, but leisurely and very softly, until it become somewhat soft,
which you may try by feeling it betwixt your finger and thumb; and
when it is soft, then put your water from it: and then take a sharp knife,
and turning the sprout end of the corn upward with the point of your
knife, take the back part of the husk off from it, and yet leaving a kind
of inward husk on the corn, or else it is marr'd and then cut off that
sprouted end, I mean a little of it, that the white may appear; and so pull
off the husk on the cloven side, as I directed you; and then cutting off a
very little of the other end, that so your hook may enter; and if your
hook be small and good, you will find this to be a very choice bait,
either for winter or summer, you sometimes casting a little of it into the
place where your float swims.

And to take the Roach and Dace, a good bait is the young brood of
wasps or bees, if you dip their heads in blood; especially good for
Bream, if they be baked, or hardened in their husks in an oven, after the
bread is taken out of it; or hardened on a fire-shovel: and so also is the
thick blood of sheep, being half dried on a trencher, that so you may cut
into such pieces as may best fit the size of your hook; and a little salt
keeps it from growing black, and makes it not the worse, but better: this
is taken to be a choice bait, if rightly ordered.

There be several oils of a strong smell that I have been told of, and to
be excellent to tempt fish to bite, of which I could say much. But I
remember I once carried a small bottle from Sir George Hastings to Sir
Henry Wotton, they were both chemical men, as a great present: it was
sent, and receiv'd, and us'd, with great confidence; and yet, upon
inquiry, I found it did not answer the expectation of Sir Henry; which,
with the help of this and other circumstances, makes me have little
belief in such things as many men talk of. Not but that I think that
fishes both smell and hear, as I have express in my former discourse:
but there is a mysterious knack, which though it be much easier than
the philosopher's stone, yet is not attainable by common capacities, or
else lies locked up in the brain or breast of some chemical man, that,
like the Rosicrucians, will not yet reveal it. But let me nevertheless tell
you, that camphire, put with moss into your worm-bag with your
worms, makes them, if many anglers be not very much mistaken, a
tempting bait, and the angler more fortunate. But I stepped by chance
into this discourse of oils, and fishes smelling; and though there might
be more said, both of it and of baits for Roach and Dace and other
float-fish, vet I will for bear it at this time, and tell you, in the next
place, how you are to prepare your tackling: concerning which, I will,
for sport sake, give you an old rhyme out of an old fish book; which
will prove a part, and but a part, of what you are to provide.

My rod and my line, my float and my lead,
My hook and my plummet, my whetstone and knife,
My basket, my baits, both living and dead,
My net, and my meat, for that is the chief:
Then I must have thread, and hairs green and small,
With mine angling purse: and so you have all.

But you must have all these tackling, and twice so many more, with
which, if you mean to be a fisher, you must store yourself; and to that
purpose I will go with you, either to Mr. Margrave, who dwells amongst
the book-sellers in St. Paul's Church-yard, or to Mr. John Stubs, near to
the Swan in Goldinglane: they be both honest, an, and will fit an angler
with what tackling he lacks.

Venator. Then, good master, let it be at-- for he is nearest to my
dwelling. And I pray let's meet there the ninth of May next, about two
of the clock; and I'll want nothing that a fisher should be furnished

Piscator. Well, and I'll not fail you, God willing, at the time and place

Venator. I thank you, good master, and I will not fail you. And, good
master, tell me what BAITS more you remember; for it will not now be
long ere we shall be at Tottenham-High-Cross; and when we come
thither I will make you some requital of your pains, by repeating as
choice a copy of Verses as any we have heard since we met together;
and that is a proud word, for we have heard very good ones.

Piscator Well, scholar, and I shall be then right glad to hear them. And I
will, as we walk, tell you whatsoever comes in my mind, that I think
may be worth your hearing. You may make another choice bait thus:
take a handful or two of the best and biggest wheat you can get; boil it
in a little milk, like as frumity is boiled; boil it so till it be soft; and then
fry it, very leisurely, with honey, and a little beaten saffron dissolved in
milk; and you will find this a choice bait, and good, I think, for any
fish, especially for Roach, Dace, Chub, or Grayling: I know not but that
it may be as good for a river Carp, and especially if the ground be a
little baited with it.

And you may also note, that the SPAWN of most fish is a very tempting
bait, being a little hardened on a warm tile and cut into fit pieces. Nay,
mulberries, and those black-berries which grow upon briars, be good
baits for Chubs or Carps: with these many have been taken in ponds,
and in some rivers where such trees have grown near the water, and the
fruit customarily drops into it. And there be a hundred other baits, more
than can be well named, which, by constant baiting the water, will
become a tempting bait for any fish in it.

You are also to know, that there be divers kinds of CADIS, or Case-
worms, that are to be found in this nation, in several distinct counties,
in several little brooks that relate to bigger rivers; as namely, one cadis
called a piper, whose husk, or case, is a piece of reed about an inch
long, or longer, and as big about as the compass of a two-pence. These
worms being kept three or four days in a woollen bag, with sand at the
bottom of it, and the bag wet once a day, will in three or four days turn
to be yellow; and these be a choice bait for the Chub or Chavender, or
indeed for any great fish, for it is a large bait.

There is also a lesser cadis-worm, called a Cockspur, being in fashion
like the spur of a cock, sharp at one end: and the case, or house. in
which this dwells, is made of small husks, and gravel, and slime, most
curiously made of these, even so as to be wondered at, but not to be
made by man, no more than a king-fisher's nest can, which is made of
little fishes' bones, and have such a geometrical interweaving and
connection as the like is not to be done by the art of man. This kind of
cadis is a choice bait for any float-fish; it is much less than the piper-
cadis, and to be so ordered: and these may be so preserved, ten, fifteen,
or twenty days, or it may be longer.

There is also another cadis, called by some a Straw-worm, and by some
a Ruff-coat, whose house, or case, is made of little pieces of bents, and
rushes, and straws, and water-weeds, and I know not what; which are so
knit together with condensed slime, that they stick about her husk or
case, not unlike the bristles of a hedge-hog. These three cadises are
commonly taken in the beginning of summer; and are good, indeed, to
take any kind of fish, with float or otherwise. I might tell you of many
more, which as they do early, so those have their time also of turning to
be flies in later summer; but I might lose myself, and tire you, by such a
discourse: I shall therefore but remember you, that to know these, and
their several kinds, and to what flies every particular cadis turns, and
then how to use them, first as they be cadis, and after as they be flies, is
an art, and an art that every one that professes to be an angler has not
leisure to search after, and, if he had, is not capable of learning.

I'll tell you, scholar; several countries have several kinds of cadises, that
indeed differ as much as dogs do; that is to say, as much as a very cur
and a greyhound do. These be usually bred in the very little rills, or
ditches, that run into bigger rivers; and I think a more proper bait for
those very rivers than any other. I know not how, or of what, this cadis
receives life, or what coloured fly it turns to; but doubtless they are the
death of many Trouts: and this is one killing way:

Take one, or more if need be, of these large yellow cadis: pull off his
head, and with it pull out his black gut; put the body, as little bruised as
is possible, on a very little hook, armed on with a red hair, which will
shew like the cadis-head; and a very little thin lead, so put upon the
shank of the hook that it may sink presently. Throw this bait, thus
ordered, which will look very yellow, into any great still hole where a
Trout is, and he will presently venture his life for it, it is not to be
doubted, if you be not espied; and that the bait first touch the water
before the line. And this will do best in the deepest stillest water.

Next, let me tell you, I have been much pleased to walk quietly by a
brook, with a little stick in my hand, with which I might easily take
these, and consider the curiosity of their composure: and if you should
ever like to do so, then note, that your stick must be a little hazel, or
willow, cleft, or have a nick at one end of it, by which means you may,
with ease, take many of them in that nick out of the water, before you
have any occasion to use them. These, my honest scholar, are some
observations, told to you as they now come suddenly into my memory,
of which you may make some use: but for the practical part, it is that
that makes an angler: it is diligence, and observation, and practice, and
an ambition to be the best in the art, that must do it. I will tell you,
scholar, I once heard one say, " I envy not him that eats better meat than
I do; nor him that is richer, or that wears better clothes than I do: I envy
nobody but him, and him only, that catches more fish than I do ". And
such a man is like to prove an angler; and this noble emulation I wish to
you, and all young anglers.

The FIFTH day-continued

Of the Minnow, or Penk; Loach, Bull-Head, or Miller's- Thumb: and the

Chapter XVIII

Piscator and Venator

Piscator. There be also three or four other little fish that I had almost
forgot; that are all without scales; and may for excellency of meat, be
compared to any fish of greatest value and largest size. They be usually
full of eggs or spawn, all the months of summer; for they breed often,
as 'tis observed mice and many of the smaller four-footed creatures of
the earth do and as those, so these come quickly to their full growth and
perfection. And it is needful that they breed both often and numerously;
for they be, besides other accidents of ruin, both a prey and baits for
other fish. And first I shall tell you of the Minnow or Penk.

The MINNOW hath, when he is in perfect season, and not sick, which
is only presently after spawning, a kind of dappled or waved colour,
like to a panther, on its sides, inclining to a greenish or sky-colour; his
belly being milk white; and his back almost black or blackish. He is a
sharp biter at a small worm, and in hot weather makes excellent sport
for young anglers, or boys, or women that love that recreation. And in
the spring they make of them excellent Minnow-tansies; for being
washed well in salt, and their heads and tails cut off, and their guts
taken out, and not washed after, they prove excellent for that use; that
is, being fried with yolk of eggs, the flowers of cowslips and of
primroses, and a little tansy; thus used they make a dainty dish of meat.

The LOACH is, as I told you, a most dainty fish: he breeds and feeds in
little and clear swift brooks or rills, and lives there upon the gravel, and
in the sharpest streams: he grows not to be above a finger long, and no
thicker than is suitable to that length The Loach is not unlike the shape
of the Eel: he has a beard or wattles like a barbel. He has two fins at his
sides, four at his belly, and one et his tail; he is dappled with many
black or brown spots; his mouth is barbel-like under his nose. This fish
is usually full of eggs or spawn; and is by Gesner, and other learned
physicians, commended for great nourishment, and to be very grateful
both to the palate and stomach of sick persons. He is to be fished for
with a very small worm, at the bottom; for he very seldom, or never,
rises above the gravel, on which I told you he usually gets his living.

The MILLER'S-THUMB, or BULL-HEAD, is a fish of no pleasing
shape. He is by Gesner compared to the Sea-toad-fish, for his similitude
and shape. It has a head big and flat, much greater than suitable to his
body; a mouth very wide, and usually gaping; he is without teeth, but
his lips are very rough, much like to a file. He hath two fins near to his
gills, which be roundish or crested; two fins also under the belly; two
on the back; one below the vent; and the fin of his tail is round. Nature
hath painted the body of this fish with whitish, blackish, brownish
spots. They be usually full of eggs or spawn all the summer, I mean the
females; and those eggs swell their vents almost into the form of a dug
They begin to spawn about April, and, as I told you, spawn several
months in the summer. And in the winter, the Minnow, and Loach, and
Bull-head dwell in the mud, as the Eel doth; or we know not where, no
more than we know where the cuckoo and swallow, and other half-year
birds, which first appear to us in April, spend their six cold, winter,
melancholy months. This BULL-HEAD does usually dwell, and hide
himself, in holes, or amongst stones in clear water; and in very hot days
will lie a long time very still, and sun himself, and will be easy to be
seen upon any flat stone, or any gravel; at which time he will suffer an
angler to put a hook, baited with a small worm, very near unto his very
mouth: and he never refuses to bite, nor indeed to be caught with the
worst of anglers. Matthiolus commends him much more for his taste
and nourishment, than for his shape or beauty.

There is also a little fish called a STICKLEBAG, a fish without scales,
but hath his body fenced with several prickles. I know not where he
dwells in winter; nor what he is good for in summer, but only to make
sport for boys and women-anglers, and to feed other fish that be fish of
prey, as Trouts in particular, who will bite at him as at a Penk; and
better, if your hook be rightly baited with him, for he may be so baited
as, his tail turning like the sail of a wind-mill, will make him turn more
quick than any Penk or Minnow can. For note, that the nimble turning
of that, or the Minnow is the perfection of Minnow-fishing. To which
end, if you put your hook into his mouth, and out at his tail; and then,
having first tied him with white thread a little above his tail, and placed
him after such a manner on your hook as he is like to turn then sew up
his mouth to your line, and he is like to turn quick, and tempt any
Trout: but if he does not turn quick, then turn his tail, a little more or
less, towards the inner part, or towards the side of the hook; or put the
Minnow or Sticklebag a little more crooked or more straight on your
hook, until it will turn both true and fast; and then doubt not but to
tempt any great Trout that lies in a swift stream. And the Loach that I
told you of will do the like: no bait is more tempting, provided the
Loach be not too big.

And now, scholar, with the help of this fine morning, and your patient
attention, I have said all that my present memory will afford me,
concerning most of the several fish that are usually fished for in fresh

Venator. But, master, you have by your former civility made me hope
that you will make good your promise, and say something of the several
rivers that be of most note in this nation; and also of fish-ponds, and the
ordering of them: and do it I pray, good master; for I love any discourse
of rivers, and fish and fishing; the time spent in such discourse passes
away very pleasantly

The FIFTH day-continued

Of Rivers, and some Observations of Fish

Chapter XIX


WELL, scholar, since the ways and weather do both favour us, and that
we yet see not 'Tottenham-Cross, you shall see my willingness to satisfy
your desire. And, first, for the rivers of this nation: there be, as you may
note out of Dr. Heylin's Geography and others, in number three hundred
and twenty-five; but those of chiefest note he reckons and describes as

The chief is THAMISIS, compounded of two rivers, Thame and Isis;
whereof the former, rising somewhat beyond Thame in
Buckinghamshire, and the latter near Cirencester in Gloucestershire,
meet together about Dorchester in Oxfordshire; the issue of which
happy conjunction is Thamisis, or Thames; hence it flieth betwixt
Berks, Buckinghamshire, Middlesex, Surrey, Kent and Essex: and so
weddeth itself to the Kentish Medway, in the very jaws of the ocean.
This glorious river feeleth the violence and benefit of the sea more than
any river in Europe; ebbing and flowing, twice a day, more than sixty
miles; about whose banks are so many fair towns and princely palaces,
that a German poet thus truly spake:

Tot campos, &c.
We saw so many woods and princely bowers,
Sweet fields, brave palaces, and stately towers;
So many gardens drest with curious care,
That Thames with royal Tiber may compare.

2. The second river of note is SABRINA or SEVERN: it hath its
beginning in Plinilimmon-hill, in Montgomeryshire; and his end seven
miles from Bristol; washing, in the mean space, the walls of
Shrewsbury, Worcester, and Gloucester, and divers other places and
palaces of note.

3. TRENT, so called from thirty kind of fishes that are found in it, or
for that it receiveth thirty lesser rivers; who having his fountain in
Staffordshire, and gliding through the counties of Nottingham, Lincoln,
Leicester, and York, augmenteth the turbulent current of Humber, the
most violent stream of all the isle This Humber is not, to say truth, a
distinct river having a spring-head of his own, but it is rather the mouth
or aestuarium of divers rivers here confluent and meeting together,
namely, your Derwent, and especially of Ouse and Trent; and, as the
Danow, having received into its channel the river Dravus, Savus,
Tibiscus, and divers others, changeth his name into this of Humberabus,
as the old geographers call it.

4. MEDWAY, a Kentish river, famous for harbouring the royal navy.

5. TWEED, the north-east bound of England; on whose northern banks
is seated the strong and impregnable town of Berwick.

6. TYNE, famous for Newcastle, and her inexhaustible coal-pits. These,
and the rest of principal note, are thus comprehended in one of Mr.
Drayton's Sonnets:

Our floods' queen, Thames, for ships and swans is crown'd
And stately Severn for her shore is prais'd;
The crystal Trent, for fords and fish renown'd;
And Avon's fame to Albion's cliffs is rais'd.

Carlegion Chester vaunts her holy Dee;
York many wonders of her Ouse can tell;
The Peak, her Dove, whose banks so fertile be,
And Kent will say her Medway doth excel:

Cotswold commends her Isis to the Tame:
Our northern borders boast of Tweed's fair flood;
Our Western parts extol their Willy's fame,
And the old Lea brags of the Danish blood.

These observations are out of learned Dr. Heylin, and my old deceased
friend, Michael Drayton; and because you say you love such discourses
as these, of rivers, and fish, and fishing, I love you the better, and love
the more to impart them to you. Nevertheless, scholar, if I should begin
but to name the several sorts of strange fish that are usually taken in
many of those rivers that run into the sea, I might beget wonder in you,
or unbelief, or both: and yet I will venture to tell you a real truth
concerning one lately dissected by Dr. Wharton, a man of great learning
and experience, and of equal freedom to communicate it; one that loves
me and my art; one to whom I have been beholden for many of the
choicest observations that I have imparted to you. This good man, that
dares do anything rather than tell an untruth, did, I say, tell me he had
lately dissected one strange fish, and he thus described it to me:

"This fish was almost a yard broad, and twice that length; his mouth
wide enough to receive, or take into it, the head of a man; his stomach,
seven or eight inches broad. He is of a slow motion; and usually lies or
lurks close in the mud; and has a moveable string on his head, about a
span or near unto a quarter of a yard long; by the moving of which,
which is his natural bait, when he lies close and unseen in the mud, he
draws other smaller fish so close to him, that he can suck them into his
mouth, and so devours and digests them."

And, scholar, do not wonder at this; for besides the credit of the relator,
you are to note, many of these, and fishes which are of the like and
more unusual shapes, are very often taken on the mouths of our sea
rivers, and on the sea shore. And this will be no wonder to any that have
travelled Egypt; where, 'tis known, the famous river Nilus does not only
breed fishes that yet want names, but, by the overflowing of that river,
and the help of the sun's heat on the fat slime which the river leaves on
the banks when it falls back into its natural channel, such strange fish
and beasts are also bred, that no man can give a name to; as Grotius in
his Sopham, and others, have observed.

But whither am I strayed in this discourse. I will end it by telling you,
that at the mouth of some of these rivers of ours, Herrings are so
plentiful, as namely, near to Yarmouth in Norfolk, and in the west
country Pilchers so very plentiful, as you will wonder to read what our
learned Camden relates of them in his Britannia.

Well, scholar, I will stop here, and tell you what by reading and
conference I have observed concerning fish-ponds.

The FIFTH day-continued

Of Fish-Ponds

Chapter XX


DOCTOR LEBAULT, the learned Frenchman, in his large discourse of
Maison Rustique, gives this direction for making of fish-ponds. I shall
refer you to him, to read it at large: but I think I shall contract it, and yet
make it as useful.

He adviseth, that when you have drained the ground, and made the
earth firm where the head of the pond must be, that you must then, in
that place, drive in two or three rows of oak or elm piles, which should
be scorched in the fire, or half-burnt, before they be driven into the
earth; for being thus used, it preserves them much longer from rotting.
And having done so, lay faggots or bavins of smaller wood betwixt
them: and then, earth betwixt and above them: and then, having first
very well rammed them and the earth, use another pile in like manner
as the first were: and note, that the second pile is to be of or about the
height that you intend to make your sluice or floodgate, or the vent that
you intend shall convey the overflowings of your pond in any flood that
shall endanger the breaking of your pond-dam.

Then he advises, that you plant willows or owlers, about it, or both: and
then cast in bavins, in some places not far from the side, and in the
most sandy places, for fish both to spawn upon, and to defend them and
the young fry from the many fish, and also from vermin, that lie at
watch to destroy them, especially the spawn of the Carp and Tench,
when 'tis left to the mercy of ducks or vermin.

He, and Dubravius, and all others advise, that you make choice of such
a place for your pond, that it may be refreshed with a little rill, or with
rain water, running or falling into it; by which fish are more inclined
both to breed, and are also refreshed and fed the better, and do prove to
be of a much sweeter and more pleasant taste.

To which end it is observed, that such pools as be large and have most
gravel, and shallows where fish may sport themselves, do afford fish of
the purest taste. And note, that in all pools it is best for fish to have
some retiring place; as namely, hollow banks, or shelves, or roots of
trees, to keep them from danger, and, when they think fit, from the
extreme heat of summer; as also from the extremity of cold in winter.
And note, that if many trees be growing about your pond, the leaves
thereof falling into the water, make it nauseous to the fish, and the fish
to be so to the eater of it.

'Tis noted, that the Tench and Eel love mud; and the Carp loves
gravelly ground, and in the hot months to feed on grass. You are to
cleanse your pond, if you intend either profit or pleasure, once every
three or four years, especially some ponds, and then let it dry six or
twelve months, both to kill the water-weeds, as water-lilies, can-docks,
reate, and bulrushes, that breed there; and also that as these die for want
of water, so grass may grow in the pond's bottom, which Carps will eat
greedily in all the hot months, if the pond be clean. The letting your
pond dry and sowing oats in the bottom is also good, for the fish feed
the faster; and being sometimes let dry, you may observe what kind of
fish either increases or thrives best in that water; for they differ much,
both in their breeding and feeding.

Lebault also advises, that if your ponds be not very large and roomy,
that you often feed your fish, by throwing into them chippings of bread,
curds, grains, or the entrails of chickens or of any fowl or beast that you
kill to feed yourselves; for these afford fish a great relief. He says, that
frogs and ducks do much harm, and devour both the spawn and the
young fry of all fish, especially of the Carp; and I have, besides
experience, many testimonies of it. But Lebault allows water-frogs to
be good meat, especially in some months, if they be fat: but you are to
note, that he is a Frenchman; and we English will hardly believe him,
though we know frogs are usually eaten in his country: however he
advises to destroy them and king-fishers out of your ponds. And he
advises not to suffer much shooting at wild fowl; for that, he says,
affrightens, and harms, and destroys the fish.

Note, that Carps and Tench thrive and breed best when no other fish is
put with them into the same pond; for all other fish devour their spawn,
or at least the greatest part of it. And note, that clods of grass thrown
into any pond feed any Carps in summer; and that garden-earth and
parsley thrown into a pond recovers and refreshes the sick fish. And

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